How Frequent Feedback Drives Performance Management 

Continuous feedback loops are replacing formal annual or biannual reviews – but the new system needs to be planned out to make these changes effective.

Over the last few years, many notable businesses have started to phase out traditional performance reviews. Dell, Accenture, GE, New York Life and Adobe – to name a few – have all moved toward frequent check-ins, touchpoints and coaching for employees.

There is good reason for the transition, as shorter cycles between feedback creates more flexibility and actionable goals for both managers and employees. But before a company rushes to join the annual review-free ranks, it’s important to consider strategies to maximize frequent feedback. Here are strategies to consider when making the switch to continuous feedback loops.  

Discuss short- and long-term career goals 

The annual performance review may ask where employees wants to end up in one, two or five years. The shorter review cycle provides an opportunity to consider not just job titles, but rather roles and projects within an organization. For example, an employee may want to explore learning a specific job skill for a shorter period of weeks or months, and then reflect and consider how that skill fits into larger future goals. Career conversations can offer opportunities to discover a wide range of skill sets in the short term that my fit into longer-term career goals. 

Be flexible – as necessary 

It can be readily apparent early on in a project if performance metrics will be met, exceeded or fall short. The same is true of employee performance. The benefit of a frequent check in with managers means that goal metrics can be adjusted. A manager should be cautious of adjusting the goalposts too much, but with buy-in from an employee a goal can become dynamic over time. Adjusting upward, downward or deciding to stay the course will be more motivating than a static goal off in the distance. 

Consider autonomy, mastery and meaning 

The core principles of motivational goal setting still apply. Companies need to abandon the binary choice of moving up or moving out, and allow lateral moves into specialty areas. Check-in should celebrate growth by identifying skills that employees have mastered. Finally, reviews should provide insight into how contributions align to the strategic goals of the business. Reminding employees of autonomy, mastery and meaning on a regular basis will increase motivation for the long term. 

Rethinking performance reviews is a healthy practice. But the replacement system needs to adapt to the new format, rather than become a series of mini annual reviews. With careful thought to the goals of performance management, a new method that benefits managers, employees and the company can emerge.  

 

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